Cong Core Group meets against backdrop of Parliament stalemate
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Last Updated: Monday, November 22, 2010, 21:35
  
New Delhi: A meeting of Congress Core Group was held on Monday against the backdrop of continuing stalemate involving the government and the Opposition in Parliament over the demand of JPC probe into 2G Spectrum allocations.

Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee, who earlier in the day held a second all-party luncheon meeting with the Opposition leaders over the issue, briefed the top party leadership about the discussions.

The Core Group is chaired by Congress president Sonia Gandhi in which Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Pranab Mukherjee, Home Minister P Chidambaram and Defence Minister AK Antony are members. Sources meanwhile say the government "is not yet keen" for a JPC.

At the AICC briefing, Congress spokesperson Jayanthi Natarajan said the party is in faovur of Public Accounts Committee looking into the matter, though a senior Congress leader also said, "the situation is evolving" when asked whether the party is determined not to allow JPC.

However, options before the government are limited with the Opposition refusing to accept anything less than such a probe and even some of UPA allies favouring it so that Parliament can be run.

At an all-party meeting called by Mukherjee to end the deadlock in Parliament, the opposition unitedly pressed for JPC and rejected government's proposal for attaching a five-member multi-disciplinary probe team with the Public Accounts Committee to go into the CAG report.

As the hour-long meeting remained deadlocked, Mukherjee told the opposition parties that he would get back to them after consulting Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

Later, senior government sources dropped enough hints that the demand for JPC could be considered. They said that JPC is always agreed to "reluctantly" and even when accepted, it "does not mean defeat" of the government.

"We have to see that the Parliament runs," a source said.

Even at the meeting, Mukherjee told the leaders of various parties that "though the government was not convinced about the need for a JPC probe, if at all it agrees, it would only give in to the opposition demand."

Catching on this, Leader of Opposition in Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj said that whichever government has in the past accepted a JPC has only "given in" to the demand. "Why don't you give up and give in to our demand," she told Mukherjee.

He laughed it off saying that since Swaraj was a lawyer, she had caught him.

In the all-party meeting, while the opposition parties closed ranks on the issue seeking JPC in one voice, even some key allies of the UPA -- Trinamool Congress, NCP and DMK whose leader A Raja was forced to resign as Telecom Minister seemed to be not averse to the JPC as they said the government had the responsibility of running Parliament.

NDA convenor and JD-U chief Sharad Yadav, who attended the all-party meeting, told a news agency, "Now even their allies have come in support such a probe, what is the government's problem in accepting JPC.”

PTI


First Published: Monday, November 22, 2010, 21:35


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